University of Oulu

Risbøl, O.; Langhammer, D.; Schlosser Mauritsen, E.; Seitsonen, O. Employment, Utilization, and Development of Airborne Laser Scanning in Fenno-Scandinavian Archaeology—A Review. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 1411.

Employment, utilization, and development of airborne laser scanning in Fenno-Scandinavian archaeology : a review

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Author: Risbø, Ole1; Langhammer, Daniel2; Schlosser Mauritsen, Esben3;
Organizations: 1Department of Archaeology and Cultural History, NTNU University Museum, 7012 Trondheim, Norway
2The County Administrative Board of Gotland, 621 85 Visby, Sweden
3ARKVEST, Ringkøbing-Skjern Museum, 6900 Skjern, Denmark
4Archaeology, University of Oulu, 90570 Oulu, Finland
5Archaeology, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 20.5 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-06-29


This paper gives a presentation of how airborne laser scanning (ALS) has been adopted in archaeology in the North over the period 2005–2019. Almost two decades have passed since ALS first emerged as a potential tool to add to the archaeologist’s toolbox. Soon after, it attracted the attention of researchers within archaeological communities engaged with remote sensing in the Fenno-Scandinavian region. The first archaeological ALS projects gave immediate good results and led to further use, research, and development through new projects that followed various tracks. The bulk of the research and development focused on studying how well-suited ALS is for identifying, mapping, and documenting archaeological features in outfield land, mainly in forested areas. The poor situation in terms of lack of information on archaeological records in outfield areas has been challenging for research and especially for cultural heritage management for a long period of time. Consequently, an obvious direction was to study how ALS-based mapping of cultural features in forests could help to improve the survey situation. This led to various statistical analyses and studies covering research questions related to for instance effects on detection success of laser pulse density, and the size and shape of the targeted features. Substantial research has also been devoted to the development and assessment of semi-automatic detection of archaeological features based on the use of algorithms. This has been studied as an alternative approach to human desk-based visual analyses and interpretations of ALS data. This approach has considerable potential for detecting sites over large regions such as the vast roadless and unbuilt wilderness regions of northern Fennoscandia, and has proven highly successful. In addition, the current review presents how ALS has been employed for monitoring purposes and for landscape studies, including how it can influence landscape understanding. Finally, the most recent advance within ALS research and development has been discussed: testing of the use of drones for data acquisition. In conclusion, aspects related to the utilization of ALS in archaeological research and cultural heritage management are summarized and discussed, together with thoughts about future perspectives.

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Series: Remote sensing
ISSN: 2072-4292
ISSN-E: 2072-4292
ISSN-L: 2072-4292
Volume: 12
Issue: 9
Article number: 1411
DOI: 10.3390/rs12091411
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
1171 Geosciences
218 Environmental engineering
222 Other engineering and technologies
213 Electronic, automation and communications engineering, electronics
Funding: Seitsonen was funded by project Domestication in Action (Academy of Finland grant number 308322 and European Research Council grant number 2017 756431).
EU Grant Number: (756431) DOMESTICATION - Domestication in Action - Tracing Archaeological Markers of Human-Animal Interaction
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 308322
Detailed Information: 308322 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (